US must act to protect Pak nuke assets: Experts

November 19th, 2007 - 1:27 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 19 (ANI): The US must not wait for Pakistan nuclear weapons to fall into wrong hands. Rather it must take pre-emptive action to secure it, two experts have advocated.

The United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss. Nor would it be strategically prudent to withdraw our forces from an improving situation in Iraq to cope with a deteriorating one in Pakistan. We need to think now about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that, Frederick W. Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael OHanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, have argued.

Talking about the most likely dangers that Pakistan may witness, Kagan and OHanlon said that a complete collapse of the Musharraf regime would allow an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum, which will mean a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces.

According to the New York Times, it would take a long time to move American forces halfway across the world to protect Pakistans nuclear assets.

We would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces, the paper quoted the two experts, as saying.

Kagan and OHanlon suggested that a Special Forces operation could be carried out with the limited goal of preventing Pakistans nuclear materials and warheads from falling into the wrong hands.

We would have to settle for the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act, they added.

They went on to say that a second option would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership.

This would require a sizable combat force not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.

Expressing their apprehension over the possibility of warfare within the Pakistani security forces, they said: Pro-American moderates could well win a fight against extremist sympathizers on their own. But they might need help if splinter forces or radical Islamists took control of parts of the country containing crucial nuclear materials. The task of retaking any such regions and reclaiming custody of any nuclear weapons would be a priority for our troops.

If a holding operation in the nations centre was successful, we would probably then seek to establish order in the parts of Pakistan where extremists operate, they said, adding that this would also benefit the US efforts in Afghanistan by depriving terrorists of the sanctuaries they have long enjoyed in Pakistans tribal and frontier regions. (ANI)

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